A man is in custody after allegedly attacking three of his shipmates with a hammer and knife – one of them fatally – before scrambling up the mast of a fishing boat miles off the Massachusetts coast.
Mexican national Franklin Freddy Meave Vazquez, 27, faces one count of murder and one count of attempted murder and will appear in a Boston court at a later date, US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in a statement Monday.
The US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts could not say if Vazquez has been assigned legal representation.
Vazquez was one of seven crew members sailing Sunday aboard the Captain Billy Haver, a fishing vessel about 55 miles east of Massachusetts, according to an affidavit filed by a special agent in the US Coast Guard.
According to the affidavit, a crew member said he heard yelling coming from the boat’s deck and ran to investigate. He was struck in the back of the head three times and fell down.
The crew member said he looked up to see Vazquez with a knife in one hand and a hammer in another, the affidavit said. Vasquez told him, “Just stay there,” according to the affidavit.
Another crew member was lying on the deck, just feet away, with blood coming out of his mouth, the crew member said.
Still holding the knife and hammer, Vazquez then allegedly struck a third crew member with a hammer before climbing up the ship’s mast to escape other crewmen who tried to capture him, according to the US attorney’s office. He later threw the knife to the deck.
A German cruise ship, the Mein Schiff 6, responded to a distress call from the fishing boat’s captain, the affidavit said.
Two of the wounded crew members were taken aboard the cruise ship. One of the victims, who had suffered a head injury and stab wounds to his torso, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the affidavit.
The German ship responded as it was the nearest vessel with “a medical supply option,” said Nathalie Holst, spokeswoman for TUI cruises. The Mein Schiff 6 took the victims aboard after consulting with American authorities, she said. The ship arrived in Boston on Monday.
“They bring back two persons. One was sitting and bleeding at the head … and everywhere was blood, all over the face. And one person was lying there, and I don’t know what happened to him,” Alex Goebbels, a witness aboard the German ship, told CNN affiliate WBZ in Boston.
WBZ reported that the fishing boat was based in Virginia.
Court documents indicate that Vazquez was in the United States illegally, according to court documents and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In March, Vazquez was arrested in Newport News, Virginia, and accused of abduction by force, intimidation or deception, according to the affidavit. He was released on bond. On April 2, he was placed in immigration proceedings but released from ICE custody April 23, the affidavit said.
ICE released a statement saying its agents “encountered” Meave Vazquez at the Norfolk City Jail in March 2018 and took him into custody upon his release.
“Despite ICE’s objections, an immigration judge granted (Meave Vazquez) bond. ICE had to release him from custody April 27 after he posted bond,” said the statement from ICE spokesman John Mohan.
The statement did not identify the judge, and ICE did not immediately respond to a CNN email seeking the judge’s name.
If convicted, Vazquez faces up to life in prison for the murder charge and up to 20 years in prison for attempted murder. Lelling’s office said Vazquez would be subject to deportation proceedings after completing any sentence imposed.
CNN’s Carma Hassan and Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.